I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic
Went to the flicks last weekend with friend Ruth. We nearly saw Puss In Boots, it being nearly Christmas and both of us in the mood for something unchallenging. But thankfully we instead ended up at Edinburgh’s delightful indie, the Filmhouse, watching Weekend. Ruth is always quality company for film viewing; she’s a bit of a buff (but not enough to be boring), has studied film/film + gender a bit (again, not enough to get too techie about the whole thing), and we’ve been friends long enough to be tolerant when one of us picks a dud.
Weekend was not a dud. It’s a neat little film about two guys who meet in a club and have one of those one-night-stands that somehow doesn’t quite end. But this one is doomed because one of the characters has unavoidable plans to leave (or has he? Cue tension). Within that plot, it manages to do several things. It allows for discussion of various ‘issues’ – gay marriage, fidelity (or lack thereof) within relationships, homophobia and homophobic violence, coming out and the interaction between gay and straight friends and family. But it’s not an ‘issue’ film – far from it. First and foremost it is a modern, urban love story between Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glen (Chris New), both of whom deserve to win prizes for their terrific acting, most of which seemed to be done through the tiniest shifts of facial expression, and yet conveyed a world of meaning. (In fact, Tom Cullen did, at Nashville, although that still leaves New). Andrew Haigh, the writer/director, also does a fine, fine job.
It would be a terrible pity to pigeonhole Weekend as a ‘gay movie’, because its appeal should go well beyond one section of the population. (In fact, there is a whole sub-plot about Glen, an artist, and his project to create an installation piece which challenges the marginalisation of ‘gay’ art. In the context of this it was interesting to look around the cinema and see that while perhaps half the audience looked like they were probably gay male couples, the other half probably weren’t). It’s probably the best depiction I’ve seen in film of the first heady, confusing days of a new relationship, when all those signs are being mis/read and mis/communications being worked out. The nearest comparison I can think of is Before Sunrise, the 1995 flick with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, which shares the plot device of a time limit being imposed on the new lovers. Thankfully, though, Weekend doesn’t have to spend half its time being obsessed with Julie Delpy’s Gallic kookiness, in the way that all (straight) Anglo men seem to be, which is a welcome relief. Are there actually Frenchwomen who are really like that (Delpy/Audrey Tatou etc)? Sure I know some pretty off-the-wall French women, but they all have a steely practicality to them which doesn’t seem to translate to the screen versions. Could this be something to do with (straight?) male directors. Surely not.
Anyway, I digress. Weekend, to sum up, is a wonderfully tender, tightly assembled, beautifully acted depiction of a short, but nonetheless meaningful, relationship. It also avoids the annoying tendency to think that length is an indicator of quality and seriousness in a film. Go and see it.